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Ford: The back room games begin

Fight is on to replace the mayor

by Enid Godtree

Ford flanked by a few members of his inner circle. Photo Courtesy of The Torontoist
Ford flanked by a few members of his inner circle. Photo Courtesy of The Torontoist

With Rob Ford officially thrown out of office as a result of Justice Charles Hackland's decision today, the gloves may be off in terms of finding his replacement.

Ford's continuation in office remains a possibility. This will basically depend on whether the court allows Ford's appeal. If it does, he'll likely also be granted a 'stay' (a legal hold-up) on the decision to remove him and remain in office.

However, there are no guarantees of an appeal. Many consider the case against him to be airtight, and although the removal of an official as politically important as the mayor of Toronto is considered unprecedented, Ford may not have a legal leg to stand on.

In the meantime, there are a host of possibilities in terms of who can (and ultimately will) be Toronto's Mayor. Currently, if Ford is removed from office in 14 days, council will have the option to appoint a 'caretaker' replacement or hold a by-election. While most councillors seem to favour a by-election, a number of the mayor's inner circle have called on Deputy Mayor Holyday to remain on in a caretaker fashion until things with Ford are sorted out.

Unfortunately for the Mayor, this inner circle is shrinking fast, revealing a rift in the right-wing. While Ford notably lost control of council during the 2012 budget battles, it was Karen Stintz' public defection from the Ford camp over Transit City funding which first hinted at fault-lines among the right-wing in the current administration.

Some Ford loyalists remained with the Mayor after his press scrum today, including Doug Holyday, Frances Nunziata, Vincent Crisanti, Mike Del Grande and Gorgio Mammolitti. However, one hour later Mammolitti proclaimed that the latest Ford debacle was the "nail in the coffin" and resigned from Ford's Executive committee.

Other right-wingers have been strangely absent from the Ford camp. Executive member Denzel Minnan-Wong. who has been critical of Ford's conduct, was not there but later criticized Mammolitti for leaving the Executive, saying, "I can’t square the inconsistency of Councillor Mammoliti and there’s many things he says that I can’t square.”

Executive member councillors Shiner (who defied Ford on the Plastic Bag ban), Milczyn (who criticized Doug Ford, the mayor's brother) and Michael Thompson (rumoured to be fighting with the mayor over the Police budget) and several other members of the executive were also not present.

Meanwhile, although Ford has stated he'll run again for the Mayoral seat at the first opportunity, several other candidates have been tipped to replace him. Karen Stintz has been rumoured as a potential right-wing candidate, though many consider her to be too new to council. Former Progressive Conservative leader John Tory is also a possibility. While hosting lawyer Clayton Ruby on his Talk1010 show after the decision, Tory was asked why he wasn't considering running for mayor. Tory shot back "because there's no vacancy," and laughed awkwardly. Ford had previously resorted to dirty tricks to keep Tory from running in the last election.

Among the anti-Fordists, several candidates have presented themselves.

Polling indicates that Olivia Chow would win handily against the Mayor, even with a vote split on the left, although she has until now remained undecided. Former budget chief and Miller-era veteran Shelly Carroll and Councillor Adam Vaughan have been rumoured to be putting together Mayoral bids, while councillors Joe Mihevc, Janet Davis, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Josh Matlow all weighed in publicly on Ford's ejection, a potential indication that they are positioning themselves for the Mayor's chair.

Meanwhile, battle lines will be drawn in the next four days as City council makes appointments to committees tomorrow and the City budget process begins on Thursday.

with files from Justin Saunders


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Topics: Governance
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